The successful recipe of the Las Vegas complex in the desert of Nevada will be used again, this time in Europe. There are already another gambling and entertainment complex considered as the Asian Las Vegas, in Macao, and now it’s time for Europe, in the desert of Spain.
It is the desert of Aragon, where it will be built 32 hotel-casinos, two theme parks, a race course and stadium over the next decade.
Aragón, in Spanish and Aragonese; Aragó, in Catalan, is an autonomous community in the centre of north-eastern Spain. Its official name in Spanish is the “Comunidad Autónoma de Aragón.” It has an area of 47,719 km² (18,424 mi²) with a population of 1,277,471 (2006).
Aragon is bounded on the north by France, on the east by Catalonia, on the south by Valencia, and on the west by Castile-La Mancha, Castile-Leon, La Rioja, and Navarre. It comprises the provinces of Zaragoza (English and Catalan: Saragossa), Huesca, and Teruel. It is traversed by the Ebro, mountainous in the north; with beautiful fertile valleys, rather barren in the south.
Its capital is Zaragoza.
Loarre, one of the most important Romanesque castles in Europe
Saragossa, on the river Ebro
Zaragoza, also called Saragossa in English, is the capital city of the autonomous community and former Kingdom of Aragon. It is situated on the river Ebro and its tributaries, the Huerva and Gállego, near the centre of the region, in a valley with a variety of landscapes, ranging from desert (Los Monegros) to thick forest, meadows and mountains.
Location of Zaragoza
The regional government of Aragon, approves the construction of residential areas, an equestrian centre and a golf course on over 2000 hectares of land in the Los Monegros desert.
The name of the project is “Gran Escala”, its estimated cost being 17 billion euro (~ $28.5 billion), footed by International Leisure Development, a London-based consortium of investors.
The estimated number of visitors is about 25 million per year.
The area has a mediterranean continental desert climate as it is surrounded by mountains.
There are many other projects that started here, like projects like Expo 2008 (the next official World’s Fair, with the theme of water and sustainable development, to be held between June 14 and September 13, 2008), Plataforma Logística de Zaragoza (PLAZA), Parque Tecnológico de Reciclado (PTR), as well as being on the route of the AVE high-speed rail route since December 2003, which consolidates the main city (Zaragoza) role as a communications hub.
“The renewal of infrastructure, the fame which is coming to Aragon and the quick action of local officials all attracted this project here,” said Didier Rancher, a French entrepreneur whose company will install the two theme parks.
The beige desert landscape may be reminiscent of Las Vegas but Zaragoza is only a two-hour flight from Stansted airport, near London, and the resort could attract millions of Britons, particularly after plans for a gambling expansion in Britain were placed in doubt by a review that Gordon Brown has ordered into plans for a Manchester “super-casino”.
The themes of the hotel-casinos will cover the sweep of history, from Pharaonic Egypt to Ancient Greece to the Roman Era and the Italian Renaissance. One of the theme parks is to be called Spyland, where the world of James Bond will be the dominant motif. Backers plan to invite Daniel Craig and Eva Green, stars of Casino Royale, the latest Bond film, to bring a touch of glamour to the project.
The project, which will be formally presented in Zaragoza on December 12.
Construction of the water park and Spyland is scheduled to begin in the second half of 2008 with the whole project built in stages.
(Information from AFP)